Phoenix news helicopter collision

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Phoenix news helicopter collision
CG renderings of N215TV (top) and N613TV (bottom)
DateJuly 27, 2007 (2007-07-27)
SummaryMid-air collision due to pilot error
SitePhoenix, Arizona, U.S.
33°29′48″N 112°4′14″W / 33.49667°N 112.07056°W / 33.49667; -112.07056Coordinates: 33°29′48″N 112°4′14″W / 33.49667°N 112.07056°W / 33.49667; -112.07056
Total fatalities4 (all)
Total injuries0
Total survivors0
First aircraft
TypeEurocopter AS-350 B2[1]
Second aircraft
TypeEurocopter AS-350

On July 27, 2007, two AS-350 AStar helicopters from television stations KNXV-TV and KTVK collided in mid-air over Phoenix, Arizona, while covering a police pursuit.[4][5] On board the two aircraft were four people in total – a pilot and a photographer in each helicopter – all of whom were killed, while no casualties were reported on the ground.[6]


KNXV was the area's ABC affiliate, while KTVK was an independent news station, formerly an ABC affiliate itself; both stations had switched their affiliations after longtime CBS affiliate KSAZ-TV affiliated with Fox in December 1994. The two helicopters were broadcasting a police pursuit live when the collision occurred, at 12:46:18 p.m. MST.[7] Both aircraft came down in the Steele Indian School Park, central Phoenix.[8]

Three other news helicopters from some of the city's other stations (KSAZ, KPNX, and KPHO) were in the area and within seconds began reporting on the crash. A photograph taken moments after the collision and showing both helicopters plunging towards the ground was circulated by AP.[9]

Aftermath and investigation[edit]

An AS350 news helicopter of ABS-CBN network, similar to the aircraft involved in the accident

The collision was investigated by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), which concluded that "...the probable cause of this accident was both pilots' failure to see and avoid the other helicopter. Contributing to this failure was the pilots' responsibility to perform reporting and visual tracking duties to support their station's electronic news gathering (ENG) operation. Contributing to the accident was the lack of formal procedures for Phoenix-area ENG pilots to follow regarding the conduct of these operations."[5]

The day of the accident, Phoenix Police Chief Jack Harris brought up the possibility that the suspect in the chase the two helicopters were covering could "be held responsible for any of the deaths from this tragedy".[10] However, in 2010, when the suspect pleaded guilty to 35 crimes stemming from the 2007 police chase, he was not charged with the deaths of the helicopter occupants.[11]

Two years after the accident, the families of pilot Scott Bowerbank and photographer Jim Cox announced that a settlement for an undisclosed amount was agreed to with US Helicopters, the owners of the Channel 15 helicopter. Both legal teams released a video reconstructing details of the accident. The computer generated footage simulates the Channel 3 (KTVK) helicopter being struck from behind by the Channel 15 (KNXV) helicopter.[12][13]


At the time of the accident, five news helicopters were covering the police incident and specific protocols (called Sharp Echo) for radio communications between news helicopters and Phoenix control tower were already in force in an attempt to coordinate their activity.[5]

As of 2017, the five English-language television stations in Phoenix use two helicopters; KTVK and KPHO – which came under common ownership in 2014 – use one aircraft, while the other is shared by KNXV, KSAZ, and KPNX.[14] In neither operation do pilots perform reporting duties.[15] Additionally, technological improvements such as long-range camera lenses allow helicopters to stay farther back from news stories.[14]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on July 29, 2007. Retrieved September 19, 2007.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  2. ^ "FAA Registry (N215TV)". Federal Aviation Administration.
  3. ^ "FAA Registry (N613TV)". Federal Aviation Administration.
  4. ^ "4 Dead As 2 Helicopters Tracking Police Pursuit Collide". KPHO-TV. July 27, 2007. Archived from the original on September 27, 2007. Retrieved July 27, 2007.
  5. ^ a b c Midair Collision of Electronic News Gathering Helicopters KTVK-TV, Eurocopter AS350B2, N613TV, and U.S. Helicopters, Inc., Eurocopter AS350B2, N215TV Phoenix, Arizona, July 27, 2007 (PDF) (Report). National Transportation Safety Board. January 28, 2009. Archived (PDF) from the original on May 19, 2009. Retrieved July 28, 2017.
  6. ^ "Two helicopters crash while covering chase". July 27, 2007. Archived from the original on September 28, 2007. Retrieved July 27, 2007.
  7. ^ "NTSB Releases Reports On Phoenix News Helicopters Crash". NPPA. August 29, 2008. Retrieved October 20, 2018.
  8. ^ "Deaths in US TV helicopter crash". BBC News. July 28, 2007. Retrieved April 22, 2010.
  9. ^ "Remembering the 2007 Phoenix news-helicopter crash that killed 4". July 28, 2014. Retrieved November 20, 2016.
  10. ^ "Topic Galleries -". Chicago Tribune.
  11. ^ Kiefer, Michael (July 13, 2010). "Phoenix news helicopters crash: Driver in police chase pleads guilty". Retrieved November 20, 2016.
  12. ^ "Helicopter Collision- High Resolution". YouTube. Retrieved September 17, 2011.
  13. ^ "Helicopter Crash Phoenix Computer Animation". YouTube. Retrieved September 17, 2011.
  14. ^ a b staff (July 27, 2017). "10 years later: What's changed since Phoenix TV chopper crash?". ABC15.
  15. ^ Catherine Holland; Diana Rossi (July 27, 2017). "3TV, ABC 15 news choppers collided in mid-air killing 4 a decade ago". AZFamily. Retrieved July 27, 2017.

External links[edit]